Global Climate Change and COP27 Implementation Summit

December 28, 2022   Reading Time: 12 minutes

Reading Time: 12 min read

Image Credit – White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Toyesha Padukkage*

This LKI Explainer, highlights the key achievements, challenges of the COP27 climate summit.


  1. Introduction
  2. Why was COP 27 Significant
  3. What did COP 27 entail?
  4. State of the Climate
  5. Key Outcomes of COP27
  6. Sri Lanka at COP 27
  7. What’s Next
  8. Notes

1. Introduction

  • The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) was held from 6th to 20th November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt under the presidency of Sameh Shoukry. State parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered for the 27th time to evaluate progress of climate actions and commitments. Since the launch of COP27, the international community recognised it as ‘the implementation summit’ or ‘the African COP’.

2. Why was COP27 significant?

  • COP27 was called the implementation summit as it was held under the theme “Together for implementation” with the aim of advancing and achieving climate targets and commitments under the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC. COP27 took place amidst increasing climate impacts, geopolitical tensions, food insecurity and global fuel crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • More importantly, COP27 was held under pressure from climate activists and the youth, with focus directed towards global leaders, and climate polluting companies for their lack of climate commitment, empty promises and greenwashing.
  •  COP27 brought in new hope of focusing on special needs, circumstances and investment opportunities in Africa for addressing climate issues and implementing climate actions. Africa is particularly a vulnerable region for the climate crisis and is subject to frequent floods, sea level rise and constant droughts.

3. What did COP27 entail ?

  • COP27 also served as the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, and as the 4th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) and the 56th session of the subsidiary bodies.1
  • 112 heads of state including Joe Biden, President of the United States of America; Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; and over 46,000 delegates including ministers; policy makers; climate activists, scientists, and members of United Nations Secretariat units and bodies; specialised agencies and related organisations; intergovernmental organisations; and non-governmental organisations attended COP27.2
  • COP27 had thematic days on the topics of finance, science, youth and future generations, decarbonisation, water, ace and civil society, energy, biodiversity and solutions. Roundtable discussions focused on specific issues such as just transition, food security, innovative finance for climate and development, investing in the future of energy, water security, and climate change and the sustainability of vulnerable communities. The first week of COP27 was allocated for technical discussions on climate matters while the second week focused on reaching agreements through negotiations.3
  • At the opening ceremony of COP27, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell highlighted three key areas on which the climate summit should focus, and they were
    • implementation of commitments to the Paris Agreement and the global climate finance architecture;
    • making progress in adaptation, mitigation finance, especially loss and damage,
    • establishing transparency and accountability in delivering what the parties have promised.4

4. State of the Climate

5. Key Outcomes of COP27

  • The key outcomes of COP27 were centred on the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. It focuses on seventeen areas: i) Science and Urgency; ii) Enhancing ambition and implementation; iii) Energy; iv) Mitigation; v) Adaptation; vi) Loss and damage; vii) early warning and systematic observation; viii) Implementation – pathways to just transition; ix) Finance; x) Technology transfer and deployment; xi) Capacity building; xii) Transparency; xiii) Taking stock; xiv) Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; xv) Ocean; xvi) Forest; and xvii) Enhancing implementation: action by non-party stakeholders.9
  • Among notable outcomes in Sharm el-Sheikh are: the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to produce a report on doubling adaptation finance; progress in agriculture and food security through a new four-year work programme; a joint work programme of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism 2023-2027 focusing on technology transfer;10 adoption of a mitigation work programme; adoption of an action plan to provide early warnings systems within the next five years and decision for adoption of funding arrangements for loss and damage.
5.1 Loss and Damage Finance
  • Loss and damage finance addresses unavoidable losses incurred from adverse climate impacts and the discussion on loss and damage finance continued on the side-lines of the main climate concerns at previous COPs. For the first time at COP27, the loss and damage finance was listed as a standing agenda item in the adopted agenda triggering formal negotiations on the subject.11
  • Loss and damage is a demand for climate justice by the most climate vulnerable countries among the developing nations, in order to hold the developed nations accountable for the irreversible damage caused by devastating climate impacts. After intense discussions, the developed nations including the United States (US), United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) agreed to set up a Loss and Damage fund to support the developing and the most climate-vulnerable nations.
  • The most significant achievement of the COP27 climate summit is the agreement to set up a loss and damage finance as a part of Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan adopted at COP27.12 A transitional committee will provide recommendations for operationalisation of the fund in COP28.
5.2  Focus on the 1.5º Climate Target
  • There was much debate among state parties on which climate target that their climate actions should be centred upon as the Paris agreement suggests keeping global temperature below 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The EU fought strongly to not allow backtracking from the 1.5°C goal, but there was no new collective agreement to accelerate emission reduction.13 As agreed in COP26, state parties reaffirmed their decision to keep alive the target of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan establishes the importance of keeping the 1.5°C global temperature goal within reach.14
  • To achieve the 1.5°C target, significant commitments from states are required especially in emission reduction. However, only 29 state parties have submitted an update on their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and 163 countries have not updated their NDCs in 2022.15 The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan recognises the existing emission gap to achieve the 1.5°C target even though no further NDCs were submitted by state parties to reduce the gap.16
  • The commitment for implementation of climate actions by the biggest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters is significant for reaching this target. Especially, the role assumed by the US and China, would affect the progress on climate action. Although the US and China announced their commitment to make joint efforts on climate action at COP26, climate talks between the two countries were suspended by China in August 2022 due to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Although there were informal negotiations between the two countries as a result of President Biden and President Xi Jinping’s meeting at the G20 summit, no formal negotiations for climate action were made between the two countries at COP27.17
5.3 Mitigation Efforts
  • Heads of states and state representatives at the COP27 plenary session indicated their key climate issues and their interest to work on advancing climate actions. The United States President Joe Biden acknowledged the significance of achieving a low carbon future through investments in technology, establishment of energy infrastructure, reduction of emissions (especially cutting down methane), creation of green jobs and through forests and climate partnerships. The US President also emphasised that “good climate policy is a good economic policy”.18
  • Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley clearly voiced at COP27 that the developing nations are victims of the devastating climate impacts caused by the developed industrialised nations’ inaction to mitigate GHG emissions, and their failure to maintain climate finance pledges for helping poor nations.19
  • A four-year mitigation work programme (until 2026) was agreed upon ‘to scale up mitigation ambition and implementation’ as a part of the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan.20
  • In an effort to reduce global heating to the 1.5°C target, it is important to consider other mechanisms for reducing GHGs in the atmosphere. Reducing human induced methane emissions is one such measure which took a special focus at COP27 as the Global Methane Pledge (a COP26 initiative) is now supported by 150 countries which was initially backed by just over 100 countries last year.21 The pledge indicates a promise to collectively reduce GHG emission by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.22
  • Progress was also made at COP27 on conservation of forests and ecosystems. The UK Prime Minister launched the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership where the EU and 26 countries come together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.23 Moreover, the EU launched Forest Partnerships with five countries: the Republic of Congo, Guyana, Mongolia, Uganda and Zambia, which signifies long term commitment for cooperation with regard to forest management and governance, reduction of deforestation and forest degradation, and promotion of bio-economy ensuring trade of sustainable bio-products.24
5.4 Energy and Investments
  • The challenges faced by states due to the global energy crisis presented an opportunity to facilitate the discussion on sustainable transition to renewable energy. The Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26 set in motion phasing down of unabated coal, but further steps are still necessary to phase down all fossil fuels.25 At COP27, Norway, Tuvalu, Colombia, France, Denmark, Spain, Ireland and other countries supported phasing down of all fossil fuels.26 However, no collective decision was reached by the end of the summit. It was observed by many that the presence of a significant number of fossil fuel lobbyists (more than 600 estimated) at COP27 hindered any progress towards phasing down all fossil fuels.27
  • Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) created by Costa Rica and Denmark to further the cause of phasing out oil and gas production, announced that Portugal and Washington state in the US were to join alongside Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland and Quebec as core members of BOGA.28
  • To advance just energy transition in Africa, the South African President Ramaphosa unveiled an investment plan under the South African Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) which elaborates how USD 8 billion from developed nations would be used for reducing reliance on coal and decarbonising energy.29
  • Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is an important provision which establishes and governs voluntary carbon markets which will aid states and other stakeholders in making a low-carbon transition. Technical discussions on how to set up carbon markets continued on at COP27 which resulted in the inclusion of a confidentiality clause on carbon trading to the draft text. However, the draft text was not adopted and the discussion on setting up carbon markets will come about prior to the next COP.30
5.5 Adaptation Finance
  • In 2009, developed nations pledged to provide USD 100 billion by 2020 under the Adaptation Fund to help developing countries deal with climate change impacts.31 However, the pledge of USD 100 billion has not been met by the developed countries to secure adaptation costs of the most vulnerable nations of developing countries. The developing nations demanded for the promises to be kept and to make new allocations to meet adaptation costs which will be between $140-300 billion by 2030.32
  • Rishi Sunak, the newly elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom stated at the COP27 Plenary Session that it is morally right to adhere to climate finance promises made especially with regard to adaptation, and that the dependence on fossil fuels in the current global energy crisis, has shown the need to diversify energy supply by investing in renewable energy.33
  • In 2022, new pledges and contributions received to the Adaptation Fund amounted to USD 232 million for providing financial assistance to achieve adaptation needs of the climate vulnerable nation.34 The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan recognises the adaptation gap and raises concern over the lack of global adaptation finance flows. The Standing Committee on Finance agreed to produce a report on doubling adaptation finance.35
5.6 Agriculture and Food Security
  • COP27 gave prominence to discuss concerns on food security. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report, states that 828 million people are affected by hunger in 2021.36
  • The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan establishes a joint work programme for implementation of climate action addressing agriculture and food security which is a four-year programme implementing the outcomes of the Koronivia Joint work on Agriculture (KWJA) adopted by the COP and other prior activities addressing food security. 37

6. Sri Lanka at COP 27

  • The President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that when implementing climate actions in developing countries like Sri Lanka, the main barrier is lack of capacity. The Sri Lankan President also highlighted the need to address issues relating to food security and urged like-minded nations to have a discussion on it at the ministerial level.38
  • At COP27, Sri Lanka made promises to not to increase coal power; to phase out fossil fuel subsidies; to aim for 70% renewable energy use for electricity generation by 2030; and to join the Global Methane pledge. Moreover, the Sri Lankan President proposed to establish an International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka with an ancillary institution in Maldives, for the purpose of capacity building as a transdisciplinary global centre.39
  • Initiation of Marine Spatial planning, establishment of a Climate Office, implementation of national policy for conservation and sustainable utilisation of mangrove ecosystems, implementation of Commonwealth Pilot Project for Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability and leading Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods, are among climate actions currently undertaken by Sri Lanka.40

7. What’s Next

  • Although setting new targets for climate action was not the primary focus of COP27, it was evident that significant progress on commitments was required by state parties and other stakeholders to keep the 1.5°C target alive in accordance with the commitments and provisions of UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
  • The next UNFCCC climate summit COP28 will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30th November to 12th December 2023, and the expectation is high for progress and implementation of climate action.41

8. Notes

  1. UNFCCC (2022). Information for COP27 participants (A-Z). [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/sharm-el-sheikh-climate-change-conference-november-2022/participation-registration/information-for-cop-27-participants-a-z [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  2. Anadolu Agency (2021). UN Climate meet met with mixed reactions, hopes for next meet despite disappointment. [Online] Available at: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/environment/un-climate-meet-met-with-mixed-reactions-hopes-for-next-meet-despite-disappointment/2745832#  [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  3. COP27 Egypt (2022). COP27 Presidency Vision: Thematic Days. [Online] Available at: https://cop27.eg/#/presidency/eventsThematic [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  4. UN Climate Change (2022). UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell’s Speech at the Opening of #COP27. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_rdvG9t3ZA [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  5. IPCC (2022). Summary for Policymakers, In Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. [Online] Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  6. United Nations Environment Programme (2022). UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2022. [Online] Available at: https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2022 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  7. World Resources Institute (2022). The State of Nationally Determined Contributions: 2022. [Online] Available at: https://files.wri.org/d8/s3fs-public/2022-10/state-of-ndcs-2022.pdf?VersionId=1KmRfYb85rXRRK2rYivyzxSDuUhdR60. [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  8. World Meteorological Organization (2022). WMO update: 50:50 chance of global temperature temporarily reaching 1. 5°c threshold in next five years. [Online] Available at: https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-update-5050-chance-of-global-temperature-temporarily-reaching-15%C2%B0c-threshold#:~:text=In%202021%2C%20the%20global%20average,be%20released%20on%2018%20May. [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  9. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  10. UNFCCC (2022). Joint Work Programme of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism for 2023-2027. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/ttclear/misc_/StaticFiles/gnwoerk_static/TEC_key_doc/525876375aa8467eb6379f868b925e49/51b7785f86b54889837fecbcb7aecb6b.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  11. UNFCCC (2022). Conference of the Parties Twenty-seventh session Sharm el-Sheikh 6-18 November 2022 Adopted Agenda. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/C0P_27_adopted_agenda_06112022.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  12. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  13. Medium: European Commission (2022). What did COP27 achieve? [Online] Available at: https://europeancommission.medium.com/what-did-cop27-achieve-40098dc06112 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  14. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  15. Climate Action Tracker (2022). CAT Climate Targets 2022 NDC updates. [Online] Available at: https://climateactiontracker.org/climate-target-update-tracker-2022/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  16. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  17. CNN (2022). The US-China climate deal was a rare bright spot in an otherwise thorny relationship. Should it be mended?. [Online] Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/11/10/world/us-china-climate-cooperation-competition-cop27/index.html [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  18. DW News (2022). Live: US President Biden delivers address at COP27 climate summit. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f39FPpg0qo [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  19. The Guardian (2022). COP27: Barbados PM launches blistering attack on rich nations at Cop27 climate talks. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment//2022/nov/07/barbados-pm-mia-mottley-launches-blistering-attack-on-rich-nations-at-cop27-climate-talks [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  20. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  21. European Commission (2022). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt/ COP27: Global Methane Pledge Ministerial Meeting on keeping 1.5 within reach, with the participation of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission. [Online] Available at: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-233540 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  22. European Commission (2022). Launch by United States, the European Union, and Partners of the Global Methane Pledge to keep 1.5C Within Reach. [Online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_21_5766 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  23. The UK Government (2022) World Leaders Lanuch Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership at COP27. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/world-leaders-launch-forests-and-climate-leaders-partnership-at-cop27 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  24. European Commission (2022). COP27: EU launches Forest Partnerships with five partner countries. [Online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_6653 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  25. UNFCCC (2021). Decision -/CP.26 Glasgow Climate Pact. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cop26_auv_2f_cover_decision.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  26. The Guardian (2022). COP27 Analysis: Getting rid of fossil fuels at a climate summit is harder than you think. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/17/getting-rid-fossil-fuels-at-a-climate-summit-is-harder-than-you-think-cop27-egypt [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  27. The Guardian (2022). Rich nations relent on climate aid to poor at Cop27. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/19/cop27-divisions-and-splits-threaten-deal-to-tackle-climate-crisis [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  28. Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (2022). Home: Redefining Climate Leadership. [Online] Available at: https://beyondoilandgasalliance.com/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  29. Le monde (2022). COP27: South Africa, a testing ground for a ‘just energy transition’. [Online] Available at: https://www.lemonde.fr/en/le-monde-africa/article/2022/11/07/cop-27-south-africa-a-testing-ground-for-a-just-energy-transition_6003224_124.html [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  30. Reuters (2022). U.N. Carbon market talks to drag beyond COP27 as deals elusive. 18 November 2022. [Online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/un-carbon-market-talks-drag-beyond-cop27-deals-elusive-2022-11-17/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022]
  31. Carbon Brief (2021). International Policy Analysis: Why climate-finance ‘flows’ are falling short of $100bn pledge. [Online] Available at: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-climate-finance-flows-are-falling-short-of-100bn-pledge/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  32. UN Environment Programme (2022). Adaptation Finance. [Online] Available at: https://www.unepfi.org/climate-change/adaptation/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  33. Guardian News (2022). Acting on climate is ‘right thing to do’, says Rishi Sunak at Cop27. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmI24fBERss [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  34. Adaptation Fund (2022). Adaptation Fund Receives Over US$ 230 Million Mobilized in 2022 for the Most Climate-Vulnerable at COP27 in Egypt. [Online] Available at: https://www.adaptation-fund.org/adaptation-fund-receives-over-us-230-million-mobilized-in-2022-for-the-most-climate-vulnerable-at-cop27-in-egypt/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  35. United Nations Climate Change (2022). Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/624444 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  36. UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (2022). UN Report: Global hunger numbers rose to as many as 828 million in 2021. [Online] Available at:  https://www.fao.org/newsroom/detail/un-report-global-hunger-SOFI-2022-FAO/en [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  37. UNFCCC (2022). Issues related to agriculture and food security.  [Online] Available at:   https://unfccc.int/topics/land-use/workstreams/agriculture [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  38. Rappler (2022). At #COP27, Sri Lanka’s Wickremesinghe hits ‘double standards’ of developed countries. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVpSAPv5R_c [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  39. UNFCCC (2022). Sri Lanka – High Level Segment Statement COP27. [Online] Available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/623384 [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].
  40. ibid.
  41. IISD (2022). 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28). [Online] Available at: https://sdg.iisd.org/events/2022-un-climate-change-conference-unfccc-cop-28/ [Accessed 1 Dec 2022].


  • 2022


  • Toyesha Padukkage


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